The Different Types of Power System Connectors Used In Industry Today

High quality electrical connectors are in use throughout the electrical distribution industry today. Of course, there is a big difference between an industrial electrical connector and the sort of connector product you might find in your smartphone, not least because of the much higher loads that they are designed to carry safely. Read on to discover more about the different types of electrical connectors in use today.

Power station

What Are High Voltage Connectors?

When electrical power is flowing over a network, it requires different levels of voltage. The network is made of power lines and transformers to reduce or increase the voltage intensity. Power generation plants (wind farms, nuclear, hydroelectric …) tend to be located far from the places where energy is consumed: cities, commercial and urban areas. Power transmission is when power is carried from the point of generation closer to the end users. Power must be transmitted at a high voltage, otherwise the losses that build up become too great (due to the Joule effect). In order to be distributed for end power consumption, the high voltage power must be decreased to medium voltage through substations and transformers. The power transmission network can be overhead or underground and requires high voltage cable accessories and connectors.

High voltage connectors are specifically designed for use in transmission networks, both overhead and underground. Ease of installation is an increasing requirement for high voltage electrical connectors, along with high reliability. All the different cable systems employed by different networks should be compatible with the latest, high quality high voltage connection equipment manufactured.

What Are NEMA Connectors?

Although it comes in many forms, NEMA is a pronged electrical connector system which is widely used all over North America, and some other regions around the world. Any NEMA standard must meet regulations laid down by the National Electrical Manufacturers’ Association. NEMA is rated to handle voltages from 125 to 600 Volts and wiring devices using the system are made between 15 to 60 Amperes. Both two and three-pronged NEMA connectors are in use today, some of which are designed exclusively for heavy duty applications.

High Density Connector Systems

High density connectors tend to be found in situations where contact systems require above average mating cycle rates. This sort of electrical connector is often used in places where vibration will be an issue, so they have many applications in heavy industry and the powered machinery that is used in it. Of course, their robust qualities also make high density connectors good for portable items that may get knocked around from time-to-time. For this reason, you will also find them in consumer electronic products – such as laptop computers, for example – to connect internal boards with power supply units.

How Do Connector Systems for Wire Terminals Work?

There are various kinds of wire terminals, such as lugs and crimps. Just like set screws, another type of wire terminal, the connector works by clamping down onto an exposed wire in some way. This means that electricity can flow from the wire and into the terminal block, or vice versa, quite freely.

Connector Products for DC Applications

Although the majority of electrical connectors on the market are designed for alternating current (AC) installations, some are specifically purposed for direct current (DC) applications, too. Most electrical supply that is generated around the globe is distributed in AC form so industrial power system connectors tend to be made for this type of electrical output.

Nevertheless, the rise in the micro-generation of electricity – for example, from photovoltaic arrays on the roofs of buildings – has led to greater numbers of DC connectors being installed. This is because off-grid electrical generation tends to be used entirely in its DC form to charge batteries. Even in grid-connected installations, where an inverter converts the electrical power that has been generated to AC, much of the system still needs to be wired with DC-style connectors. 

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